The unofficial home of
the Electoral College


ELECTION PAGES:

Start typing an
election year or...


GO


Ads are placed by Google. No endorsement by President Elect should be inferred.


No Matter How Much They Study,
the Electoral College Won't Give a Democrat a Diploma in 2008
Senator John McCain is likely the 44th President of the United States. It's not his charisma, it's not his campaign style, and it's not his policies. It's the fact that America seems to prefer having a Republican in the White House, no matter how low the current occupant's approval ratings. In fact, in 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio succeeded President Ulysses Grant, whose administration was as rife with scandal as it was with critics. President Grant had entered office in March 1869 with the confidence of the public in his abilities to administer the government in the manner he had led the Army of the Potomac. Eight years later, his popularity rivaled that of his star-crossed predecessor: Andrew Johnson. Yet, Hayes would succeed Grant. And another Republican, Garfield would succeed him. And Chester Arthur would succeed Garfield and keep the GOP grip on 1600 N. Pennsylvania Avenue solid until March 1884 - sixteen years after Grant's first swearing in! Yes, those elections occurred in the 19th century. They dealt with 19th century issues in 19th century America.

Twentieth century America was no different. Aside from the eight year runs put up by Dwight Eisenhower in 1953- 1961 and the Richard Nixon-Gerald Ford years that ran from 1969 to 1977, the GOP had three longer stays in the White House:

1.) William McKinley, GOP Senator of Ohio, was elected president in November 1896. He started a hold on the White House that would include two terms of Teddy Roosevelt and end with William Howard Taft in March 1913. A sixteen year run for the GOP.

2.) Warren Harding, another Ohio Senator who started another long run for the GOP with his election in 1920. This twelve year run would include two terms for popular Calvin Coolidge and end with Herbert Hoover's departure in March 1933.

3.) Ronald Reagan's election in 1980 started another dozen year run for the GOP that finished with George Herbert Walker Bush's single term which ended in 1993.

So just because President George Walker Bush's numbers don't show him to be looked up on favorably by the majority of those Americans who've responded to the pollster's queries, doesn't mean that Michelle Obama can start measuring for the White House drapes. Senator John McCain has more than just an even chance to succeed President Bush. His chances are mathematically better than Senator Obama's. That's the key: the electoral math and the trends of these states to go red or blue. No matter the talk by the Democratic nominee, Senator Obama, about shaking up the electoral map, he's still likely to lose. Electoral changes are slow and some are glacial at best. The Democratic nominee may strategically plot his choice of running mate from a critical state. He may even spend more money and time campaigning in states that have been typically found in the GOP column on Election night. Nevertheless, no matter what Senator Obama does: it remains mathematically unlikely... and here's why.

The Electoral College flat out kills a Democrat's chances.

Only 19 states went to the Democratic nominees in the last three (3) presidential elections (1996, 2000, & 2004). They are: New York (31), Connecticut (7), Rhode Island (4), Massachusetts (12) Vermont (3), Maine (4), New Jersey (15), Pennsylvania (21), Maryland (10), Delaware (3), Michigan (17), Illinois (21), Wisconsin (10), Minnesota (10), Washington (11), Oregon (7), California (55), Hawaii (4) and the District of Columbia (3). That's 248 electoral votes the Democratic nominee could probably count on - maybe. But it's still 22 shy of a win. So, where would the nominee look to find other states to go along with the 'Democratic Faithful 19'?. Maybe not in the South.

Four more reasons why the GOP wins.

Four more reasons why the Democratic candidate won't win are based in history: Mondale 1984, Dukakis 1988, Gore 2000, and Kerry 2004. Those are the last four Democratic candidates for president, who lost the general election. Interestingly, all 4 have one thing in common in their losses: none of them won a single southern state!

The South is the kingmaker.

Let's examine the South as it is set in favor of the GOP. First we start by eliminating the hardcore southern states--the six that have gone GOP since Reagan, a quarter of a century ago: Mississippi (6), Alabama (9), South Carolina (8), North Carolina (15), Virginia (13), and Texas (34). That's 85 electoral votes denied the Democrats.

The rest of the states are distinct possibilities: Tennessee (11), Louisiana (9), Arkansas (6), Georgia (15), all went twice for Democrats (TN, LA & AR for Clinton -- Georgia split between Carter in '80 and Clinton in '92). And, of course, Florida (27) which went once for Clinton in 1996. But, I must add the disclaimer here: please note that Clinton's wins were supported by Perot's ability to drain a large amount of conservative votes from G.H.W.Bush in 1992 and against Bob Dole in 1996. Still that's another 68 electoral votes that have gone Democratic. So the Democratic nominee could try focusing on prying one of these from the GOP. But it may be for nought since they all are trending Republican.

Here's the trending by GOP vote winning percentage (rounded to nearest whole number).

State/EV           1980     1984     1988     1992     1996     2000     2004

FL (27)             +17      +30      +22       +1       -5        0       +5
GA (15)             -14      +20      +20       -1       +1      +11      +16
AR (6)               -1      +22      +14      -17      -16       +5      +10
LA (9)               +5      +22      +10       -4      -12       +7      +14
TN (11)               0      +16      +16       -4       -2       +3      +14

Again, proof that the GOP has a huge advantage and is likely to lock the Democratic nominee out of the South, especially since the other Southern states are leaning GOP.

Swing states that won't swing the Democratic nominee's way.

What about those crucial swing states that could tip the balance either way? Well, only one Democrat in the twenty-eight years has been able to swing them all. Bill Clinton won them in both his tries in 1992 and 1996. But President Clinton's last win was a dozen years ago. These swing states have since started swinging to the GOP:

State/EV           1980     1984     1988     1992     1996     2000     2004
 
MO (11)              +6      +20       +3      -10       -6       +3       +7
OH (20)             +10      +19      +10       -2       -6       +3       +2
WV (5)               -4      +10       -5      -13      -15       +6      +12

That makes our formula look like this:

The South            (85)
+ Other South        (68)
+ Swing states       (36)
--------------------------------
=                    89 electoral votes lost to the GOP.

But that still leaves 349 electoral votes to work on. What's left to parse? Well, like the Democrats, the Republicans have 19 Faithful states, too! Let's start by removing the 19 GOP Faithful, states that have gone GOP in the last 3 elections: Indiana (11), Virginia (13), North Carolina (15), South Carolina (8), Georgia (15), Alabama (9), Mississippi (6), Texas (34), Oklahoma (7), Kansas (6), Nebraska (5), North Dakota (3), South Dakota (3), Montana (3), Wyoming (3), Idaho (4), Utah (5), Colorado (9), and Alaska (3). That's a total of 162 electoral votes. But to be fair, we have to subtract out the Southern states that we already counted against the Democratic nominee: 162 - (TX, VA, NC, SC, GA, AL, MS) 100 = 62 more EV's for the GOP. Our formula now is:

The South            (85)
+ Other South        (68)
+ Swing states       (36)
+ GOP other Faithful (62)
--------------------------------
=                    251 EV's that are likely denied the Democrats. 

That leaves only (538 minus 251) 287 electoral votes to grab giving the Democratic nominee 17 more than the magic number of 270 needed to win. Uh-oh, I forgot to include 3 heavy GOP states that didn't get counted, because they barely went for Clinton in 1996 (again with Perot splitting the conservative vote), so they didn't number among the GOP faithful. However, their trending GOP is just too strong not to count:

State/EV           1980     1984     1988     1992     1996     2000     2004
 
KY (8)               +1      +20      +11       -3        0      +15      +20      
AZ (10)             +32      +34      +21       +2       -2       +6      +10
NV (5)              +35      +34      +21       -2       -1       +4       +3

That's another 28 electoral votes that are denied the Democrats. So let's look at out formula again:

The South            (85)
+ Other South        (68)
+ Swing states       (36)
+ GOP other Faithful (62)
+ KY, AZ & NV        (23)
--------------------------------
=                    274 Electoral Votes out of reach for the Democrats.

The next president is a Republican.

The bottom line is that you need 270 electoral votes to win. Yet of 538 possible, 274 are unavailable leaving the Democratic nominee with a possible 266. Better than the 248 we presumed at the beginning of this article. This is, of course, supposing Iowa and New Mexico are NOT in the GOP column. Even with them, the best the Democrats can do is still 9 electoral votes shy.

The flip side is that if John McCain can wrest even one state from the Democrat's possibility column: Pennsylvania, California, New Jersey, or Wisconsin, well... the GOP wins. Again.

Personally, I look at national polling and wonder why the pollsters concentrate on national polling. This is not the Federal Republic of America, it's the United States of America - every state has a say in who leads us! That's what the Electoral College is all about! These pollsters would do better to poll individual states than try to get a 'national' feel.

Clearly, it's the Electoral College math that counts. Ask Al Gore, he knows it better than most people.

Again, I reiterate that it's mathematically likely that the Next President is a Republican.

back to top